What are the previous actions in Trifles?

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Trifles is a forensic drama, which means that the previous actions of John and Minnie Wright are uncovered as the play progresses. At the beginning of the play, all the audience knows is that John Wright has been murdered. The male characters make no more progress than this by the...

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Trifles is a forensic drama, which means that the previous actions of John and Minnie Wright are uncovered as the play progresses. At the beginning of the play, all the audience knows is that John Wright has been murdered. The male characters make no more progress than this by the end of the play. But since the audience is focused on Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, we finish the play with a reasonably clear picture of what happened before the play began.

Minnie Foster was a lively, happy girl who used to love wearing pretty clothes and singing in the choir. After she married John Wright, she became miserable and withdrawn. He cut her off from her former friends, so she grew lonely. Wright was an abusive, bullying husband. He treated his wife harshly, stopping her from singing, dressing nicely, and visiting her friends. One day, he strangled her pet canary. This act of cruelty upset her so much that she strangled him.

This is partly conjecture. Not all of it is explicitly stated by the women in the play. John Wright is a more menacing figure because his abuse of his wife is shrouded in uncertainty. No one will ever know quite what he did. Nonetheless, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters are convinced that it was something terrible, something bad enough to elicit their sympathy for a woman who murdered her husband.

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